We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Dumbarton Oaks Gardens & Museum - Superb! Don't miss this!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks
Ranked #56 of 430 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Dumbarton Oaks is an institute of Harvard University dedicated to supporting scholarship internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, meetings, exhibitions, and publications. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic Gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its Museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts.
Lancaster, Pa.
Level Contributor
545 reviews
98 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 269 helpful votes
“Dumbarton Oaks Gardens & Museum - Superb! Don't miss this!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 21, 2014

After a morning Saturday visit to museums in Washington, we took a cab up to the Dumbarton Oaks gardens and museum just a walking distance from the heart of Georgetown. We had read an article in a local magazine about it with beautiful pictures that enticed us to visit. Frankly we had never heard of Dumbarton Oaks. Boy, were we ever glad we visited this superb property.

First of all it is owned by Harvard University now. The gardens are so beautifu, tranquil, peaceful and quite different from many others we have visited (Kew Gardens in London, Longwood gardens in Pa). My camera was clicking away multiple times taking pictures of the lovely sculptures, fountains, flowers, quiet paths and lovely wood scenes.

The small museum is intimate with an outstanding Byzantine art and sculpture collection - it is free too!

Dumbarton gardens and museum are situated in a lovely, highly expensive but beautiful residential area of Georgetown. These are truly hidden gems you definitely will want to visit during your stay in Washington.

I can highly recommend Dumbarton Oaks to you!

Visited April 2014
Thank LancasterTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

252 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
157 reviews
83 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Historic Mansion and Grounds”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 18, 2014

I haven't been to the museum part of Dumbarton Oaks, but the grounds are incredible. So many lovely gardens, sculptures, water features, etc. I was there at the end of May, and the rose garden was blooming and beautiful. Don't miss the Orangery, where a Ficus originally planted in the 1860s covers the walls!

Visited May 2013
1 Thank Mari818
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
51 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Garden Hates Visitors!”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 6, 2014 via mobile

Came to visit the gardens this afternoon but the line was down the block. No problem, we decide to visit the small but interesting museum until the line shrinks. We came back about an hour later but the line still snaked out the gate. The guard mentions that this is as small as the line had been all day. We wait 10 minutes and the line never moved. I was told there was no cash only line, only one cashier and it started to make me angry. I'm on vacation and have many places to spend my money and even more valuable relaxation time. Obviously this "attraction" was respectful of neither and so, to this would-be visitor, worthy of neither. We left and did not return to the museum gift shop where we'd picked out tenatively selected some over-priced gifts to purchase after our garden visit. They had 2 male "guards" hanging out at the garden gate in case some middle-aged flower lovers got, what, out of control but just one person capable of accepting the fee? Miserable!

4 Thank Honeybadger1958
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
132 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“This place is the best!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 5, 2014

The gardens are a perfect place to wonder on a spring or summer day. They have rows and rows of dahlia, peonies, and roses. On a warm day the flowers smell heavenly. The arbors and rock walls hang heavy with grapes, etc. Go for the galleries - which are chock a block full of [re-Columbian art - one of the best collections in the world. and fun historical exhibits. Make sure you bring a picnic lunch for the garden. They have blue bells in the spring .... I perfect insider's place. love, love, love it. (NB: this is a great date place!)

Visited July 2013
Thank cosmic_beancounter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
482 reviews
194 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 236 helpful votes
“Terrific Pre-Columbian and Byzantine art collections”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 15, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks is a property with gardens, an historic mansion and a museum with a specialized collection.

The museum collection is in the mansion. There are three main parts of the museum. One is the "Music Room," a large, lavish room designed to look like it was built in the Renaissance, furnished with 15th-17th Century furniture, paintings and a gigantic stone fireplace from a ruined French Chateau.

The Byzantine collection includes sculpture, icons, coins, mosaics, and altar pieces from the Byzantine empire in two large galleries, including one designed to look like a Roman courtyard.

The Pre-Columbian collection is displayed in a series of circular galleries, each with artifacts fro a different culture (Aztec, Maya etc.). The pieces in this collection include stone sculptures and statuettes, masks and massive, ornate jewelry pieces of all kinds. The most famous piece is the birthing figure, which served as the inspiration for the gold idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The pieces in the collection seem to have been chosen for quality rather than quantity, as they are extremely impressive and well-preserved, and the galleries themselves are very nicely designed.

There was no fee when we visited, but I think there is a fee during the busier months. There is an $8 fee for the gardens, which are only really worth seeing when they are in bloom, as there's not much to see in the Winter.

Dumbarton Oaks is a bit out-of-the-way, far from the Metro and a bit outside of Georgetown and DuPont Circle, but it's worth a trip. The museum itself is beautiful and well-designed and interesting and the specialty collections on display are not the kinds of artwork that most museums have. The museum is only open a few hours per day, but that's sufficient to see everything there.

Visited March 2014
Thank Brendan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Dumbarton Oaks also viewed


Been to Dumbarton Oaks? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing